When you travel, do you enjoy adventure and seeing great wildlife? How about also relaxing on white sand beaches? For those of you who enjoy all of these things, I would recommend visiting Gabon on your next vacation, a small west-African country on the Atlantic coast. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to have traveled there and let me tell you, it is near the top of my list of the most beautiful places that I have been to. Even the producers of the t.v. show Survivor saw its beauty and chose the country to film its 2008 season.
Known as Africa's "Garden of Eden", Gabon is abundant in rainforests and wildlife, so much that 10% of the land has been protected by Gabon's government and declared a national park/preserve.
Since I am a sucker for back country adventure, one day during my stay, I made the journey to one of the national parks called Pongara National Park. It is one of the most accessible of the 13 national parks in the country. To get there, I took a 45 minute boat ride from the capital city of Libreville to the Pongara Lodge, a lovely eco lodge that is located within the park and situated right along on the beach.
This is a wonderful place for peace and tranquility, while surrounded by the rainforest and wildlife. I wished that I would have spent the night there, as the lodge was very modern and well maintained. The owners built all of the cabins and the lodge using logs from the tress that were lying on the beach. It was truly impressive! If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend staying there for a few days, otherwise it is a perfect place to visit on a day trip.
During my day trip at Pongara, I took a hike through the rainforest and did see monkeys as well as elephant tracks (I didn't see any elephants, although the owners did say that guests have seen them on the property). I also spent some time on the beach and had an excellent lunch. Before I knew it, it was already time to make the journey back to Libreville.
How to get to Gabon? It is recommended to fly into Libreville, the country's capital city. Airlines that fly to Libreville include Ethiopian Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa.
Where to eat? Check out Roma Restaurant (Italian) and La Residence du Phare (French). See other options here.
Where to visit? I would recommend visiting Pongara National Park or Laongo National Park (however, this park is more difficult to get to). Also, the city of Libreville is a bustling cosmopolitan city that lies right on the Atlantic coast and has great markets, a national museum and several beaches that are worth checking out.
What to know before going? The native language of Gabon is French and most people do not speak English. It is safe to travel in Gabon, the country is secure and the people are very friendly. It is quite expensive in comparison to other African countries.